'This No Be Art’ is Ghanaian Pidgin that literally translates to "this is not art," a term often used in a derogatory way to demean and diminish African contemporary art. But thanks to Essé Dabla-Attikpo, "This No Be Art" has been turned on its head by becoming the name of her company, a place where she dedicates her work to democratizing art.
"I really believe in the power of art to foster the link between the continent and the diaspora." Essé Dabla-Attikpo
In 2019, the government of Ghana initiated the Year of Return. This invitation marked a significant opportunity for Africans from around the diaspora, to come home to Ghana to settle and invest in the country. The year 2019 was symbolic, as it represented 400 years since the first enslaved Africans touched down in Hampton, Virginia. Legions of African Americans flocked to Ghana to participate in “the return” and found new roots of connectedness.
Meanwhile, Essé Dabla-Attikpo has been busy creating space for contemporary West African artists to return to their creative roots and take their rightful place as artists, able to make a living that is not completely dependent upon the tourist market. She's been identified as "the center of Ghana's exploding art scene," and her heavy-lifting has been paying off as she helps artists with communications and marketing strategies, curates exhibitions, and connects artists and creators with collectors in the public and private sectors for sustainable and meaningful collaborations.
Art has and continues to play a huge role in creating linkages between Africans on the continent and those throughout the diaspora. From the adoption of Adinkra symbols that fortify our communication of links to our ancestry, to the music, dance, food, fashion, and customs of our ancestors, connections to our Motherland continue to grow. As more individuals of African descent journey back home, Essé is hard at work making certain that the creativity that has sustained Africans on the continent and around the world, is aptly represented and available to be supported in Ghana.